Poverty and homelessness have been ongoing issues in our society for some time.
Here, in the Eastern Panhandle, we have a ministry that fights daily to reduce poverty
in the area. Habitat for Humanity of the Eastern Panhandle, located in Martinsburg,
WV, is exactly what the name stands for housing (habitat) for all human beings
(humanity). Habitat for Humanity of the Eastern Panhandle (HFHEP) is a non-profit
Christian housing ministry that caters to helping low income families. HFHEP “does not
discriminate on the basis of age, sex, race, marital status, religion, or any other
characteristics protected by law”.

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The organization started in 1992 and completed their first home, for the Anderson
family, in 1995. By 2014, this ministry had completed 35 houses. Some sponsors that
have helped in this success include Dan Ryan Builders, Whirlpool, Hedgesville Church,
and the Berkeley County Cluster United Methodist Churches. HFHEP has participated in
the eco-friendly initiative by building some homes that include solar panels. Habitat for
Humanity of the Eastern Panhandle has supported the lives of veterans and large
families.

The general criteria to be eligible for a Habitat house include a need for an affordable
home, the ability to pay for a mortgage and maintain the home, and the willingness to
partner. Partnership is a must. The organization focuses, not only on building homes,
but building an everlasting bond with their partners. There are qualifications, such as
having a steady income for the past 12 months and being a U.S. citizen that must be
met, as well.

There is also one major stipulation that must be done. You have to help build your
masterpiece! What greater feeling is it, knowing you helped build your own home? And
why not gain new skills while you’re building? This is one of the many ways that HFHEP
keeps their costs down. The soon-to-be-homeowner must complete at least 500 hours
of “sweat equity”. Sweat equity is the hands on labor performed by partners, as well as
their families and friends. You’ll have to be patient with the process, but just remember
the end result will be well worth the wait.

If you are looking for ways to furnish your home, stop on over to ReStore which is a
discounted home improvement center that has many donated items for a reasonable
price. You can certainly donate too! ReStore accepts furniture, playground sets,
pictures, and other household items that are in fairly good condition. All monies will be
donated back to the building fund, in order to serve the Eastern Panhandle builds. So
what you buy at ReStore will be replenished back into your community!

The future is certainly looking bright for HFHEP. Currently, they are in the process of
organizing some repair/renovation projects which will assist homeowners in repairing
the inside and outside of their homes. Stay tuned!

Want to lend a helping hand? Looking to make a difference? Sure! HFHEP would love
to have you! No experience is required…just your time and willingness to be involved.
HFHEP is always looking for volunteers. Do you have the ability to build shelves or move
heavy items? Come on in! Groups such as church organizations, community
organizations, and schools can certainly lend a hand or two, as well. There are so
many different opportunities to get involved.

If you are interested in becoming a partner family or would like to volunteer, please visit
the website at http://www.habitatep.org/ or contact Karin Hammann Dunn, Operations Manager ops.hfhep@gmail.com . As HFHEP says, we can lend a “hand up not a
hand out”.